This major work, first published in 1950, is still considered the classic work on the subject. The Art of Botanical Illustration was revised and enlarged by the Antique Collectors Club in the year 2000, and published to overwhelming acclaim; this is a reprint of that edition. It provides a comprehensive, critical and well illustrated survey of the portrayal of plants through more than three thousand years. Of the first edition, the poet and gardening writer, Vita Sackville-West, after referring in The Observer to the wealth of illustration and the fascination of the text, then said, "Let no one think this is a book only for the specialist. It is essential for the specialist, certainly, but it is also for all the flower-lovers and all those who enjoy the by-ways of biography and the added attraction of good writing".
Wilfrid Blunt, an artist himself, brought to it a craftsman's appreciation and knowledge gained from experience, the extensive literature and visits to many galleries on the Continent. William T. Stearn gave him much help on botanical, biographical and bibliographical matters and contributed part of the text. Professor Stearn has revised and enlarged this classic work and greatly extended the chapter on the twentieth century. This edition includes 126 colour plates (more than twice as many as the original 1950 edition) and 140 black and white illustrations, thus making available to the general public numerous examples of the work of great botanical illustrators past and present.
Wilfrid Blunt (1901-87) was an art master at Haileybury College and at Eton College, Windsor. On his retirement in 1959 he became Curator of the Watts Gallery, near Guildford, Surrey. Here Blunt devoted most of his time to writing and travel and published some twenty-five books.
William Stearn (b.1911) has had an almost lifelong interest in botanical illustration. His numerous publications include Botanical Latin, Australian Flower Paintings of Ferdinand Bauer, Merian in Surinam, Plant Portraits from the Flora Danica, Flower Artists of Kew and The Orchid Paintings of Franz Bauer.
"Every page is revelatory, either of social histor or through the lavish reproductions of masterpieces. It's also full of heartbreaking stories of lost drawings, starving illustrators, secret geniuses, ruined ambitions and fanatics who went to the ends of earth to find new plants,"
– Polly Devlin, House & Garden